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Michael Sam and the reality of being real

In this Sept. 8, 2012 file photo, Missouri's Michael Sam (52) runs onto the field along with their teammates before the start of an NCAA college football game against Georgia in Columbia, Mo. Michael Sam hopes his ability is all that matters, not his sexual orientation. Missouri's All-America defensive end came out to the entire country Sunday night, Feb. 9, 2014, and could become the first openly gay player in America's most popular sport. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

Michael Sam publicly declared he is an openly gay man. Forget about the fact he's a football player at the University of Missouri or that he has aspirations of playing in the National Football League. Any time a person tells the truth about himself/herself and who they are I think it's a good thing -- regardless of their vocation. And when you know you're going to face adverse reaction about said truth, you're doing something brave.

But being brave sometimes has consequences, and I wonder what, if any, those consequences might be for OLB, Michael Sam, from Missouri. He was going to go as high as the third round and as low as the fifth by most evaluators' assessments.

Now, I think all bets are off and I understand it. Regardless of how GMs feel, personally, about the dynamic of an openly gay man in a hyper-aggressive, alpha male world of an NFL locker room, they must consider how that locker room will react. Even though I believe an NFL locker room can and will abide an openly gay man at some point in time, I wonder if it is now.

There are guys in the locker room that will not be cool with it.

General managers will never say it, but I believe most will have secret, high-level meetings with locker room leadership in order to get a feel for how the locker room might react to Michael Sam. There are laws against discrimination after all and human resources wouldn't take kindly to discrimination in the workplace.

Locker room leaders are hyper-alphas, men that have the respect and credibility to influence people one way or the other. And there are fundamental issues that a GM needs to consider before bringing an openly gay man into a locker room.

If you don't believe it could be problematic and consider yourself to be a classic, straight as an arrow, heterosexual male, imagine yourself showering every day with your local women's basketball or volleyball team. Would you look? Do you think you would notice? Could it be a problem? Do you think there might be some woman that would have a problem if they caught you looking? Do you think there will be men in an NFL shower that Michael Sam finds attractive?

If you're being truthful, you see the problem. And don't talk to me about women's athletics and openly gay women and how this dynamic has been going on for years. An NFL locker room is populated with individuals that are unlike women, the paradigm is completely different. And if you spent any time in an NFL locker room you would know this. I think coming out was a smart thing for Michael Sam to do before the draft because it will give team leadership the opportunity to form a consensus about an openly gay man in the locker room -- one way or the other. General managers will have to discern for themselves as to whether or not the Michael Sam situation will be merely a distraction or devastation in the locker room. It will be very interesting to see how this all unfolds.

Finally, allow me a personal note. My God tells me to love all people no matter their lot in life, denying my own inclinations and precepts. I am commanded to discern what is right and wrong but will not stand in judgment of anybody, bringing any type of condemnation down on them.

The reason for this is simple: I need to take the plank out of my own eye before I remove the speck from my brother's eye.

But the reality of being real doesn't always work to one's benefit.

Just keeping it real.

About the Author


School: West Virginia University

When you started with Bonneville Phoenix: January 2, 2007

Favorite sports memory: Walking between the white lines.

Favorite all-time athlete: Walter Payton

Favorite sports movies: Major League

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